Covid-19: UN, WHO devises a joint plan to tackle India's health issues

The United Nations has drawn up a joint response plan for India along with the World Health Organization (WHO), focusing on health and other issues to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak. The plan, presented to the Amitabh Kant-led empowered group, draws from practices followed in affected countries such as South Korea and Singapore in the area of testing, physical distancing and lockdown.

The UN said India faces ‘immense’ challenge and that the government may be required to do more than it has so far. “The scale of the challenge is immense, both on the health front and on the socioeconomic front resulting from the necessary lockdowns,” Renata Dessallien, resident coordinator, United Nations, told ET. “The joint plan is aligned to the priorities of the national government. It is responsive and will evolve as the situation in India evolves and the government makes new requests of the UN.”

India had requested the UN to share global good practices and experience from the affected countries. “Government is keen to learn more about physical distancing measures and lockdown strategies implemented by other countries in the world and the lessons that emerged from them,” said Dessallien. As part of the health plan, the UN, along with the WHO and other international organisations, has proposed that India enhance capacity of its healthcare workforce, invest in research, intensify testing and revamp health infrastructure in the country.

Lauding India’s early and comprehensive measures such as screening, testing, contact tracing and surveillance, Dessallien said as part of the non-health response plan, the UN is closely working with multiple ministries to address livelihoods, food and nutrition, education, water and sanitation, and gender related issues.

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“The sheer size of India’s population and the size and capacity of India’s health services is mainly what is driving the government to take strong actions now, at the early stages of the disease. However, the scale of Covid’s impact is enormous and it is clear that more will be required,” said Dessallien.


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